|Self-Propelled Student Discussion Group Tackles Issues After Hours
November 13, 2007
by Rachel Andoga
Long after the bells for class stopped ringing, a group of Davidson students gathered in a senior apartment to attend a lecture—not given by a visiting speaker or writer, but rather, by a fellow student. The subject? Dr. Seuss.
|As the child of a U.S. foreign diplomat, Larissa Hohe '08 spoke to the group recently about her Christmas experiences around the world.|
Rebecca Renninger ’08 delivered the multimedia lecture on Dr. Seuss, which involved a brief biography of the writer and cartoonist and an exhibition of some of his work. Appropriately for the upcoming fall break, Renninger closed with a reading of I Am Not Going to Get Up Today. "With Fall Break ahdead, I think that everyone was definitely in the mind set to calm down and have a bit of a study break," he said.
Renninger is president of the Student Lecture Series (SLS), a new informal student group that has been meeting since last spring semester to give students the opportunity to share ideas outside of the classroom. Attendance has varied between ten and thirty.
The SLS provides participants with an extracurricular marketplace of ideas. Two students during each weekly gathering lecture for ten-to-twenty minutes on a topic of their choosing. An opportunity for question and answer and discussion follows each lecture.
The rules end there. Lectures range from the informal to the scholarly, from the sincere to the sarcastic with topics such as student experiences traveling in China (given by Sam Parks ’08 and Jon Smith ‘08) and a political explanation of “Why I Don’t Vote” (a lecture by Alex Pitsinos ‘10).
|Rebecca Renninger '08 is the current president of the Student Lecture Series.|
Landon Lill ’10, who acts as historian for the group by keeping a detailed record of lectures complete with photos and a list of attendees, recently lectured on his Native American tribal heritage. “I’m Chickasaw, and I lectured on the revisionist history of the tribe,” he said. “Their motto is ‘Unconquered and Unconquerable,’ so I talked a bit on how they change history to fit the motto. Chickasaw don’t lose, and the stories I grew up with reflect that—even if they’re not necessarily true.
Renninger believes SLS provides a unique outlet for creative and critical thinking on campus. “People can really get up there and speak their minds,” she said.
Alex Pitsinos ’10 adds, “Because of how open it is, people are more comfortable saying what they really think. The informality makes for a kind of learning that you don’t necessarily get elsewhere on campus.”
Lill added that the diversity of opinion is an asset. “People who attend aren’t necessarily in the same social groups at Davidson. There are people I never see outside of attending the lectures—they’re not members of my fraternity, and they don’t live in my dorm.”
There is some consideration of chartering the Lecture Series as an official student organization. Advantages of being chartered include the opportunity to apply for funds from the Activities Tax Council, office space in the College Union, and college-owned lecture space. “It’s been an ongoing discussion,” said Renninger ’08. “We want it to continue being a freeform group without many boundaries.”
The merit of the lecture series, says Pitsinos, is the opportunity for learning outside of the curriculum. “You get exposed to ideas that you normally don’t hear,” he commented. “Right now, I’m in two economics classes and a math class. I went to a lecture the other day on Dr. Seuss. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity or even thought about that without the lecture. At the end of the day, I’m enriched by it.”
|Hohe's presentation on Christmas was full of mirth.|
Anyone interested in lecturing and/or attending the lecture series should contact Rebecca Renninger at email@example.com.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.
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Posted By: Bill Giduz